Indian Government

Guidelines for environmentally sound management of e-waste

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Courtesy of Indian Government

The electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. The increasing “market penetration” in developing countries, “replacement market” in developed countries and “high obsolescence rate” make e-waste as one of the fastest growing waste streams. Environmental issues and trade associated with e-waste at local, transboundary and international level has driven many countries to introduce interventions.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy (NEP) and to address sustainable development concerns, there is a need to facilitate the recovery and/or reuse of useful materials from waste generated from a process and/or from the use of any material thereby, reducing the wastes destined for final disposal and to ensure the environmentally sound management of all materials. The NEP also encourages giving legal recognition and strengthening the informal sectors system for collection and recycling of various materials. In particular considering the high recyclable potential of e-waste such wastes should be subject to recycling in an environmentally sound manner.

E-waste comprises of wastes generated from used electronic devices and house hold appliances which are not fit for their original intended use and are destined for recovery, recycling or disposal. Such wastes encompasses wide range of electrical and electronic devises such as computers, hand held cellular phones, personal stereos, including large household appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners etc. E-wastes contain over 1000 different substances many of which are toxic and potentially hazardous to environment and human health, if these are not handled in an environmentally sound manner.

The growth of e-waste has significant economic and social impacts. The increase of electrical and electronic products, consumption rates and higher obsolescence rate leads to higher generation of e-waste. The increasing obsolescence rate of electronic products also adds to the huge import of used electronics products. The e-waste inventory based on this obsolescence rate in India for the year 2005 has been estimated to be 1,46,180 tonnes which is expected to exceed 8,00,000 tonnes by 2012.

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